Jacob Ouma shares the joys and challenges of rescuing girls from brutal, illegal practices in Kenya

Mark Hagen of the Red Eye Rotary in Greeley, Thanked our Club for participating in a water project that brought fresh, clean water to the Kenya Girls Rescue Center.

Then he went on to introduce our speaker, Jacob Auma, from Kenya, who is the Director of the Rescue Center which runs the Kenya Olooloitikkoshi ( Ulu loi tik koshi) Project.

 The Olooloitikkoshi Project is a Girls Rescue Center (GRC) in Massailand, Kenya, that was built to address early forced marriages and the tragic practice of Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM). These common practices, occurring in large numbers in tribal Africa, continue to inflict pain, humiliation, and poverty on young women.

Massai girls in Kenya have less worth to their fathers than cattle or goats. A Massai man's wealth is determined by the number of cattle and goats he possesses. He can acquire more livestock by "Selling" his young daughter into marriage to an older man. These marriages are usually polygamous, and the young girl (sometimes as young as 8 years old) becomes a slave to her husband and to his older wives. She must quit school. Beatings are common and child sexual abuse is considered a right and normal sexual practice. Since girls are considered purchased property, their lives are at risk for disobedience and attempted escape. All hope of a different future for the girl is lost.

Jacob Auma, described the Female Genital Mutilation tradition and process to us in a modest, but heart wrenching way. No anesthesia nor medical attention is offered to these young girls. The plight of these girls and the need for rescue was clear.

Jacob and the Rescue Center become the source of respect and humanitarian treatment for these rescued young girls. They are given food, shelter, school fees, clothing, transportation, and medical care. Most importantly, they are given hope for their futures as free educated women.

There are currently 39 young girls being housed and cared for buy the Rescue Center. The Center can accommodate up to 100 girls as funds become available through donations. The project was started through Christ Community Church here in Greeley. Funding is run through a 501c3 called Network Beyond, (www.networkbeyond.org), P.O. Box 337626 Greeley, CO 80633. Donations are always welcome.

There are so many ways to Engage Rotary and Change Lives. This project, and our awareness of it, offers another one.